Review: DmC: Devil May Cry (XBOX 360)
After receiving truckloads of internet rage, developer Ninja Theory’s reboot of Capcom’s demonic hack and slash franchise, Dmc: Devil May Cry is finally out.
But what now? Are the flamers and haters concerns over Dante’s extreme new makeover well-founded, or should they now eat their words?
Reboots are tricky, that much is certain. So has Ninja Theory managed to rise to the occasion and successfully breathe new life into Dante, Virgil and the rest of the gang?
I’m the first to admit I’ve never been a favourable fan of the Devil May Cry series. The story has always been so deathly convoluted and soap opera-y that I just couldn’t invest myself in it. With the arrival of DmC: Devil May Cry, I’ve become a full-fledged fan. Dante is my new favourite demon slayer.
By all accounts, DmC: Devil May Cry is hard-edged, dripping with attitude and its story easily mixes modern day technological themes with the idea of a war between angels and demons. This is my kind of game.
Set in a modern day American city, demons have clawed their way into the upper echelons of human society, with the demon lord, Mundas at the wheel. From his central tower – a twisted metal/supernatural shaped monstrosity smack-bang in the middle of the city – he controls the human race through a network of media, CCTV and debt. Despite his ironclad grip on human society, he is threaten by the existence of the Nephilim (half demon, half angel), Dante.
The games bombastic opener introduces players to virtually everything needed to set the scene for the rest of the game, and by all admissions the first handful of hours is a head-long rush of pure awesome. The concept of Limbo – a demonic world ruled by Mundas and runs parallel our own – is an interesting one to say the least, since the entire world is like a living organism in of itself in that it constantly changes and shifts to make things all the more difficult for you in respect to gameplay.
I went into DmC: Devil May Cry thinking the plot would just be like previous games; overblown, convoluted and difficult to follow. Instead I was met with a reasonably entertaining story, one that chugged along at a steady pace. Events unfolded organically and never felt forced whereas character progression could easily be followed as a result. Only once it shifted past the halfway mark did it begin to unwind, almost like the roller-coaster it had been running on started to loose momentum.
Sadly it doesn’t pick up again, even towards the end. As the credits roll you’re certainly given a sense of accomplishment, but the ending feels somewhat uneventful in comparison to DmC: Devil May Cry‘s incredibly strong opening. There’s been a lot of criticism thrown around regarding the games length, though I’m of the opinion that it’s as long as it needs to be. And then some. If anything, I’d preferred it be shorter, especially given some of the ends pacing issues.
In any event, once you do complete the main game you unlock higher difficulties to try your hand at, and then there’s all the hidden secrets scattered throughout all of the levels. Sure, the story might only last between 7 to 10 hours, but you’ll get a lot of replayability out of DmC: Devil May Cry.
Unlike the Dante gamers have grown accustomed to over the past decade or so, DmC: Devil May Cry‘s Dante has more in common with Sid Vicious than a noble slayer of demons and foul creatures. He’s brash, impulsive, cares only about himself and his painted as a sexual deviant. By the games end however, Dante’s character evolves from being essentially a little deviant to protector of humanity. For a half angel, half demon the guy is remarkably relatable, likeable and dare I say it… human.
The core experience of any Devil May Cry game has always been the fast, furious and overly stylish gameplay, and in this area DmC: Devil May Cry does not disappoint. The infamous rating meter is still at the forefront of your gameplay experience, and ranks your overall killing performance. This time around Dante can easily access all of his death-bringing toys with just a push of a button, of which he has plenty.
Aside from his primary sword, Rebellion, which can be changed into the angelic Osiris and the demonic Arbiter, he’s also packing his trusted guns, Ebony and Ivory. Changing Rebellion’s form is done by holding down either the left (angel) or right (demon) trigger, each bringing a new dynamic to combat. The former is quite fast, delivering a high number of shots in a short amount of time, whereas the latter is heavy and hard hitting, making it perfect for taking on armoured enemies. Each ‘form’ also allows Dante to equip an additional weapon – done using the D-Pad – which again brings with it a new dynamic.
Changing between weapons, forms and using their respective combo chains all add additional bonuses to your overall style, not to mention making gameplay feel and run silky smooth. Juggling combos and keeping that rank up will challenge you, the game is by no means a walk in the park, but because the core gameplay itself works so well when everything comes together it’s all the more rewarding.
Though, it’s not all roses sadly. While DmC: Devil May Cry‘s gameplay provides a certain sense of satisfaction, the inability to lock-on to enemies and the cameras tendency to off-center itself detracts from some of the fun. Not being able to lock-on is a huge omission from previous games, especially during sections with vast amounts of foes, or more particularly during boss fights. It simply makes for far too many “hope for the best” moments, which, in a game that rewards fluid and streamlined combat there should be no room for error.
While on the topic of bosses, DmC: Devil May Cry falters most when it comes to its bosses. A lack of lock-on and camera issues I can deal with, but mundane and tedious boss fights I can’t. Whereas one etches itself as particularly memorable thanks to being visually and audibly stunning, all are nothing more than a simple grind of the same attack pattern three times in a row. Given that DmC: Devil May Cry actually delivers some imaginative enemy design, this felt a little off.
Though, if there’s one aspect DmC: Devil May Cry doesn’t disappoint, is in its presentation. This is one fine looking game. The engine running it all creates smooth animations, solid character models with impressive motion capture performances behind them and some truly gorgeous environments.
When players are dragged into Limbo – the demon world that runs parallel our own – these environments themselves shift, change and mould themselves in such a way it creates some truly unique, and smart level designs.
None are arguably more impressive than the nightclub stage, which assaults the player with finely tuned synchronised visual and audible presentation. The audio itself, a soundtrack provided by Noisia and Combichrist, is dark, menacing and heavy and fits the vibe of DmC: Devil May Cry perfectly. In fact, enemy encounters are all the more enjoyable and boss fights are made bearable thanks to the hard-hitting licks of these two bands.
As far as video game reboots go, DmC: Devil May Cry is certainly one of the better ones around. While not completely devoid of issues of its own, Ninja Theory’s take on Capcom’s beloved franchise has established itself as a thoroughly enjoyable experience, one that has kicked started 2013 in a massive way.
If you’ve always been a fan of the series, or looking to jump in for the first time, DmC: Devil May Cry is certainly worthy of recommendation.